Forest department 'loses' a damning report

Forest department 'loses' a damning report

Forest department 'loses' a damning report

In a not-so-smart attempt to shield a conservator of forests, who is facing charges of allowing the plundering of forest wealth, the state government has claimed it has ''lost'' a Lokayukta report which indicted and recommended action against him.

The Lokayukta had initiated an inquiry against G A Sudarshan, who served as conservator of forests in Madikeri in 2008.

A A Poovaiah, a resident, had complained that Sudarshan obtained illegal gratification from the timber mafia by allowing felling of about 3,000 trees in the Western Ghats forests in Kodagu. The inquiry found that the officer had issued permission to fell trees in enclosure number 20, Pattighat range forest, Kottemalai and in survey number 6 of Tannimani village.

It was found that 150 trees had been axed while 750 yielding coffee plants had disappeared from the area. It came to light that new roads were laid to transport the timber using heavy earth movers, cranes and elephants.

Nailed down
The inquiry report submitted to the government on May 19, 2011 said Sudarshan permitted cutting of  640 rosewood trees. The Karnataka Forest Act prohibits felling of rosewood trees, and violation attracts an imprisonment for five years with a fine of Rs 10,000.

The inquiry report noted that a prima facie case had been made out against the officer.
“The act of respondent is intentional and deliberate despite knowing the ratio laid down by Supreme Court,” the report stated. It recommended disciplinary proceedings against the IFS officer under All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) rules 1969, within three months from the date of receipt of the report. Sudarshan is now serving as conservator of forests (plans and survey), Shimoga.

In an obvious effort to prolong the matter, the Forest department claimed that the report has been “lost,” and wrote to the Lokayukta seeking another copy.

When contacted, former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde said he had cautioned the department. “I had warn­ed them that I know how to deal with them,” Hegde said.